Writing for Robots

Once upon a time I wrote the copy for my Remembrance Weddings website and I really tried to put as much information as I could that would be helpful, not just in picking an officiate but also in planning the wedding ceremony for couples.

Being a writer (my first college degree was a Bachelor of Journalism Science from Ohio University, one of the nation’s finest journalism schools) I felt like I had accomplished that, and judging from comments I received from brides, they thought it was helpful.

Now we are in the age of search engine optimization.  People hunt for wedding ministers on search engines. If you don’t show up on the first page of the search results you never get any calls. The search engines have rules about what you can do and say on your site. If you violate those rules they bury you on page 1439 of the results, a fate worse than death if you are trying to keep a business going.

So you study the rules and do your best. I took a college course in Search Engine Optimization and did well in the class only to find out that all the rules were changed two months later.

It’s frustrating because sometimes the rules make no sense.  Do you know that you can’t use the word “wedding” too many times on a wedding officiate web site cause the robots may thing that you are trying to scam them and you get penalized. They don’t tell you, you just get put in the back of the line and you realize your phone hasn’t rung with prospects for months.

Oh, you can hire companies that cost big bucks to do it for you.  And they can help sometimes. I had a big outfit for a while (two years) but then I got penalized because a lot of bad sites (porn mostly) attached links to my site without me knowing or seeing them. Many were buried.  I disappeared from searches for a while.

I’ve been feeling for a while now that the search engines do all this because they want to force you to pay to be on the first page of the search. It seems to be working, as I see more and more of my competitors paying the be there.

I’ve hired a new person who started working with me on the site.  I did it because I was spending all my time trying to figure out the rules and making changes to the site, instead of other things I need to do. She’s made the site prettier and the navigation is easier.  And she has put up with my ranting.. Thanks Carolyn. The new site has been up for a week now. Yesterday we were going through it and 10 porn sites, mostly Russian, had attached links.

Now she is going through the site and besides removing the porn links, she is shortening the copy and making it more robot friendly. That’s something they didn’t teach me in the School of Journalism at Ohio University.

Can you tell I’m frustrated?

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